Happy Hardrock 100 week! Check out our in-depth 2024 Hardrock 100 preview and follow our live race coverage on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

2023 UTMB Women’s Preview

An in-depth preview of the women’s field at the 2023 UTMB.

By on August 21, 2023 | Comments

Hoka - 2023 Western States 100The 2023 UTMB sets off from Chamonix, France, on Friday, September 1, a week later than normal. This extra week of recovery and preparation time will be welcome for the increasing number of runners who are coming to UTMB having already completed one or more major 100 miler this season, namely the Western States 100 and Hardrock 100. It is a fairly new field for this year’s UTMB women’s race with just three of last year’s top 10 returning. Interestingly, the start list also includes four of this year’s Western States 100 top 10 and has plenty of other big names in contention to mix it up.

While there will be a lot of expectations resting on the shoulders of Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview) to continue her unparalleled winning streak of trail 100 milers, there are plenty of women ready to challenge her. Top returning woman Eszter Csillag (pre-race interview), who finished in fifth place at UTMB last year and recently took third at the Western States 100, will surely be in the mix. So too will two-time trail world champion Blandine L’Hirondel.

The line-up also features some very promising 100-mile debutants, including two-time trail world champion, Blandine L’Hirondel, and this year’s Trail World Championships 80k second-place woman, Katharina Hartmuth (pre-race interview). The field also has several 100-mile specialists such as Sabrina Stanley, Lucy Bartholomew, and Anna Carlsson.

For those who aren’t familiar, the UTMB follows the iconic Tour du Mont Blanc route in a counterclockwise direction, usually covering 171 kilometers (106.2 miles) with almost 10,000 meters (32,700 feet) of elevation gain as it encircles the Mont Blanc massif from Chamonix, France, through Italy and Switzerland, before finishing back in Chamonix. On August 23, the race organization announced a course change to the last segment of the route, which looks like it’ll increase the distance by just under 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles).

A special thanks to HOKA for making our coverage of UTMB possible!

goodr_logo_brandcolors - 100pxThanks also to Goodr for its support of our UTMB coverage.

Tune in to our UTMB live race coverage starting at 6 p.m. CEST (10 a.m. MDT in the U.S.) on Friday, September 1, right here on iRunFar. Stay tuned!

You’ll want to also read our in-depth 2023 UTMB men’s preview for a look at the men’s race.

You can also see the race organization’s top runners list.

2022 UTMB - top 10 men - top 10 women

The top-10 women and men of the 2022 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

2023 UTMB Women’s Favorites for the Win

Courtney Dauwalter (pre-race interview)

Courtney Dauwalter - post-2023 Hardrock 100 - feature

Courtney Dauwalter

With an already dominant position in the sport, American Courtney Dauwalter has continued to go from strength to strength the past couple of years and is the odds-on favorite at this year’s UTMB. The two-time champion and reigning course-record holder last raced here in 2021 when she set the course record in a time of 22:30, improving on her 2019 winning time by just over two hours. More recently this summer, she won the 2023 Western States 100 and in doing so broke Ellie Greenwood’s revered course record by a staggering 78 minutes, and then she followed it up three weeks later with a win and another course record at the 2023 Hardrock 100. Dauwalter will benefit from a little more recovery time on account of UTMB being a week later than usual this year, and it seems more likely than not that she will nail this one too.

Eszter Csillag (pre-race interview)

Eszter Csillag - 2022 UTMB - fifth place

Eszter Csillag

Eszter Csillag is the top returning woman from last year’s UTMB, and the Hungarian who lives in Hong Kong has only gotten stronger since her fifth-place 2022 UTMB finish, in what was her debut 100 miler. She went on to take fourth at the 2022 Trail World Championships 80k and most recently placed third at this year’s Western States 100 — gradually climbing up the field in her trademark style. As a relative newcomer to elite-level ultrarunning, Csillag has been on a meteoric rise since she took fourth at the CCC in 2021 — just four months after giving birth to her second daughter — and will be in with a real shot of finishing on the podium.

Ruth Croft

2022 Western States 100 - Ruth Croft

Ruth Croft

Ruth Croft is ill and unable to race. [Updated August 31, 2023]  New Zealander Ruth Croft has plenty of experience at winning races in Chamonix, but this will be her first UTMB. She won the OCC in both 2019 and 2018, and the Marathon du Mont Blanc in 2018. In terms of 100-mile experience, Croft ran a strong second place in her 100-mile debut at the 2021 Western States 100 and went on to win the race the following year. Last year, she also finished second at Les Templiers 80k. While it’s hard to see her besting Dauwalter, she should be in with a really strong chance of a podium.

Blandine L’Hirondel

Blandine L'Hirondel - 2022 Trail World Championships 80k Champion

Blandine L’Hirondel

Maybe the most promising 100-mile debutant in this year’s UTMB is France’s Blandine L’Hirondel. What looked like a glitch in the matrix saw her DNF this year’s Trail World Championships 80k, where she was hotly fancied for the win, but it later transpired this was down to a foot injury she carried into the race. Happily, L’Hirondel confirmed on her social media in mid-July that she is recovered and eager to take on her first 100 miler. The two-time trail running world champion — in 2022 and 2019 — has climbed the ladder at UTMB events, setting both the CCC course record in 2022 and the OCC course record in 2021.

Katharina Hartmuth (pre-race interview)

2023 Trail World Championships 80k - Katharina Hartmuth

Katharina Hartmuth

Katharina Hartmuth of Germany has a phenomenal strike rate and has rarely finished off the podium in any ultra, save for a fourth-place finish at the 2023 Transgrancanaria Classic 128k. She placed third in the TDS last year and has only been getting better — winning the Eiger Ultra Trail 101k for the last two years consecutively and finishing second in this year’s Trail World Championships 80k. This is her first UTMB, but she previously won the Swiss Alps 100 Mile in 2021 over similar terrain and elevation.

Manon Bohard Cailler

2023 Trail World Championships 80k - Manon Bohard Cailler

Manon Bohard Cailler

Manon Bohard Cailler was part of the French team that took gold at this year’s Trail World Championships 80k, where she also took individual bronze. That beastly mountain race was a perfect tune-up for UTMB, and she should be a strong contender. On previous ventures to Chamonix, she won the TDS in 2021 but DNFed the CCC in 2019. Her win at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail earlier this year was an absolute tour de force where she led from the beginning and seemed to grow in strength as the miles rolled by, eventually winning by a 52-minute margin.

Clare Gallagher

Clare Gallagher - 2023 Trail World Championships 80k

Clare Gallagher

Clare Gallagher is no longer on the start list. [Updated August 22, 2023] The U.S.’s Clare Gallagher didn’t finish on her last attempt at UTMB in 2018, but there’s plenty to suggest she could nail it this time. Her previous 100-mile experience includes winning last year’s Leadville 100 Mile and the 2019 Western States 100. No stranger to the trails of Chamonix, she also won the CCC back in 2017. She showed a promising start to her season this year with a win at the Chuckanut 50k but had a below par run at the Trail World Championships 80k in June.

Other Top Women at the 2023 UTMB

Martina Valmassoi (pre-race interview)

Martina Valmassoi - 2023 Trail World Championships 80k

Martina Valmassoi

This will technically be Martina Valmassoi’s first 100 miler, but her win at last year’s TDS almost counts. She’s having a great year this year too, with a superb run at the Trail World Championships 80k in June to take fourth and a win at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon in May. Valmassoi is a distance all-rounder, winning everything from vertical-kilometer races to long ultras, and she excels on mountainous courses. She shouldn’t be too far from the front.

Claudia Tremps

Second behind Valmassoi at last year’s TDS was Spain’s Claudia Tremps, who also took ninth at UTMB in 2021. She’s been on an upward curve since that and took third in this year’s Transgrancanaria Classic 128k and second in last year’s Ultra Pirineu 100k. She should have a good chance of moving further up the placings in her second run at UTMB.

Maite Maiora

Maite Maiora took third at UTMB in 2019, but failed to finish upon return in 2021. This seemed to be more of a blip than anything else, as the Spaniard placed eighth in the Trail World Championships 80k in 2022 and won the Skyrunning World Championships 68k in 2019. Already this year, she’s won the Trail Alsace Grand Est 100 Mile. Going back further, she placed second in the CCC in 2017 and second in the Marathon du Mont-Blanc in 2015.

Fu-Zhao Xiang (pre-race interview)

2022 UTMB - Fu-Zhao Xiang

Fu-Zhao Xiang

This will be China’s Fu-Zhao Xiang’s fourth UTMB, and so far, her performances keep getting better. Most recently, she placed seventh at last year’s race in a time of 27:14 — improving in both time and placing on her 28:57, 11th-place finish in 2019, and 30-plus-hour finish in 2018. Some of her other performances — including a win at the 2021 Doi Inthanon 100 Mile and a particularly fast win at the 2020 Hong Kong 100k — suggest she might have more to offer on this lap around Mont Blanc than her previous outings suggest.

UTMB Crowd

A big crowd at the 2021 UTMB starting line. Photo: iRunFar/Ben Clark

Luzia Buehler

In 2021, Luzia Buehler made amends for two previous DNFs when she took fifth at UTMB. The Swiss woman has a depth of ultra-trail experience, including placing fourth at the Western States 100 last year, and wins at the Sean O’Brien 100k in 2020 and Georgia Death Race in 2019. She’s on form this year too, having taken second at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail and winning the Lake Zurich 100k, and is one to watch.

Aroa Sio (pre-race interview)

Spain’s Aroa Sio took eighth place at last year’s UTMB and has showed improving form since that, taking third in a close race at the 2023 Tarawera 100k, less than five minutes off the front. She also took third at the 2023 Canyons 100k for the second consecutive year — here’s her interview from 2022. Previous to last year’s UTMB, she took 12th at the 2022 Western States 100. It appears that this will be just her third 100 miler, so she might be able to build on a strong start at the distance this year.

Ailsa MacDonald

2022 Western States 100 - Ailsa Macdonald

Ailsa MacDonald

Canada’s Ailsa MacDonald took second at the 2022 Western States 100 and won the Tarawera 100 Mile in 2020, but suffered a DNF at UTMB in 2021, which she’ll likely be looking to correct. Although the majority of her experience seems to be over routes with less elevation gain and loss — including a win at the Bandera 100k in 2020 — she has put down a good run on the second half of the UTMB course, placing sixth in the 2019 CCC.

Taylor Nowlin

Another promising UTMB first-timer, Taylor Nowlin from the U.S. is fresh off a sixth-place finish at the 2023 Western States 100. She improved her finish at Western States from the previous year by one place, knocking 66 minutes off her time — albeit in cool conditions. Nowlin also took ninth in an exceptionally competitive CCC last year and had the same placing in the OCC the year previous. A top-10 placing at UTMB seems to be the next logical step.

Leah Yingling

Part of a tight chasing pack, Leah Yingling finished just nine minutes — but three places — behind Taylor Nowlin at this year’s Western States 100, in ninth. This was the American’s second top-10 finish at the event; she took sixth in 2022. She seems to have the 100-mile distance well tamed, and outside of Western States has also placed second in the Bear 100 Mile in 2021 and 2018. She doesn’t have a whole lot of European racing experience — she DNFed the 2019 TDS — but she did place third at the Transgrancanaria Advanced 65k in 2022.

Sabrina Stanley

2021 Hardrock 100 - Sabrina Stanley

Sabrina Stanley

Sabrina Stanley has waited a long time to race UTMB and will surely make it count. The American was out of luck last year, contracting COVID-19 just days before the race and withdrawing, before suffering a DNF at the Diagonale des Fous later in the autumn. However, a solid run to place second at this year’s Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 100 Mile suggests a return to her previous good form that saw her win the Hardrock 100 twice — in 2021 and 2018 — and the Diagonale des Fous in 2019.

Lucy Bartholomew

We’ve seen a bit less of Australia’s Lucy Bartholomew at big international ultras in recent years, but this year so far she’s placed second at the Ultra-Trail Australia 100k, had a commanding win at the Tarawera 100 Mile, and won the Bandera 50k. Going back further, she placed third at the 2018 Western States 100 and also took fifth at the TDS in 2017.

Anna Carlsson

Anna Carlsson - training with dog Scout

Anna Carlsson

Anna Carlsson is no longer running due to an injury. [Updated August 22, 2023] Sweden’s Anna Carlsson seems to be a bit of an all or nothing type of runner. It appears that from her last 10 ultra starts, she finished on six podiums and had three DNFs. The remaining result was a strong fourth place at the TDS in 2019. Her best results include taking third at the 2022 Diagonale des Fous and winning both the Kullamannen 100 Mile and Val d’Aran 100 Mile in 2021. This year, she won the EcoTrail Copenhagen 50 Mile.

Emma Pooley

Switzerland’s Emma Pooley is better known for shorter distances, having recently placed ninth at the 2023 Sierre-Zinal, three weeks before UTMB race day, and UTMB will be her first foray into the 100-mile distance. In terms of ultrarunning experience, she placed 11th at the 2022 Trail World Championships 80k, took second at the 2022 Eiger Ultra Trail 101k, and won the 2021 Ultra Tour Monte Rosa 100k. She could find new strengths at the 100-mile distance.

Katarzyna Solińska

Poland’s Katarzyna Solińska finished 18th at last year’s UTMB, which was possibly below expectations after her second-place finish at the Lavaredo Ultra Trail earlier that year. She also finished fifth at the CCC in 2021 and has a string of great results at shorter distances — including a win at this year’s Trail Verbier Saint-Bernard 76k. As this will be just her second 100 miler, and the experience from last year could see her move further up the field.

Anna McKenna

Anna McKenna - 2022 Margaret River Ultra Marathon champion

Anna McKenna

Australia’s Anna McKenna is a relative newcomer to the sport but has been making her presence felt. She started out by placing third in the Ultra-Trail Australia 50k in 2021, before graduating to win the 100k at the same event the following year. This year she’s placed fourth in both the Canyons 100k and Tarawera 100k. UTMB will be her first 100 miler.

2021 UTMB Start - 2022 UTMB live coverage

The start of the 2021 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Ben Clark

Still More Fast Women at the 2023 UTMB

There are even more quick women who are looking to make their mark on this year’s UTMB.

  • Claire Bannwarth (France) – 1st 2023 Tahoe 200 Mile; 5th 2023 Hardrock 100; 3rd 2023 Ultra-Trail Snowdonia 100 Mile
  • Amanda Basham (U.S.) – 2nd 2019 CCC; 4th 2023 Bandera 100k; 4th 2021 Speedgoat 50k
  • Elisabeth Borgersen (Norway) – 9th 2023 Transvulcania Ultramarathon; 6th & 7th 2019 & 2018 TDS; 6th 2016 OCC
  • Cat Bradley (U.S.) – 8th 2018 UTMB; 1st 2021 Javelina 100k; 1st 2017 Western States 100
  • Elise Delannoy (France) – 7th 2019 UTMB; 10th 2023 Mont-Blanc 90k
  • Melanie Delasoie (Switzerland) – 16th 2022 UTMB; 5th 2023 Eiger Ultra Trail 101k; 7th 2023 Mont-Blanc 90k
  • Basilia Förster (Italy) – 15th 2022 UTMB; 1st 2022 Grossglockner Ultra-Trail 100k; 3rd 2022 Trail Andorra 100k
  • Emily Gilmour-Walsh (Australia) – 1st 2023 Ultra-Trail Australia 100k; 9th 2017 Tarawera 87k
  • Ida-Sophie Hegemann (Germany) – 15th 2023 Trail World Championships 80k; 3rd 2023 Istria 100k
  • Martina Klancnik Potrč (Slovenia) – 25th 2023 Trail World Championships 80k; 6th 2023 Transgrancanaria Classic 128k
  • Sarah Ludowici (Australia) – 3rd 2021 Ultra-Trail Australia 100k; 7th 2020 Tarawera 100k
  • Kerry-Ann Marshall (South Africa) – 5th, 2nd, & 1st 2021, 2018, & 2015 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100k; 2nd 2022 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100 Mile; 6th 2016 Comrades Marathon
  • Jo Meek (U.K.) – 21st 2021 UTMB; 1st 2023 Amazean Jungle Thailand 54k
  • Kimino Miyazaki (Japan) – 4th 2023 Hardrock 100; 1st 2023 Istria 100 Mile; 2nd 2023 Tarawera 100 Mile
  • Mariya Nikolova (Bulgaria) – 9th 2018 & 2017 UTMB; 2nd 2023 Istria 100 Mile
  • Veronica Ramirez (Argentina) – 2nd, 3rd, & 3rd 2022, 2021, & 2019 Patagonia Run 100 Mile
  • Elisabeth Rios (Bolivia) – 2nd 2023 Val d’Aran 100k; 8th 2022 Transvulcania Ultramarathon
  • Emily Vaudan (Switzerland) – 12th 2022 UTMB; 1st 2022 Trail Verbier Saint-Bernard 140k; 5th 2021 Madeira Island Ultra Trail
  • Ildikó Wermescher (Hungary) – 9th & 7th 2019 & 2016 UTMB; 3rd 2017 & 2012 TDS

Women Previously Entered but But No Longer Racing the 2023 UTMB

  • Abby Hall (U.S.) – 3rd, 2nd, & 8th 2022, 2021, & 2019 CCC
  • Anne-Marie Madden (Canada) – 11th 2022 Western States 100; 3rd 2022 Black Canyon 100k [updated August 22, 2023]

Call for Comments

  • What are your predictions?
  • Do you think Courtney Dauwalter can pull off the ultimate triple crown, winning the Western States 100, Hardrock 100, and UTMB in one season?
  • Is there someone else you fancy for the win or a podium?
  • Is there anyone we haven’t mentioned who you think should be up there?
Eszter Csillag - 2022 UTMB - fifth place

Eszter Csillag took fifth at the 2022 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.